The team at Stanford continued to advance work first done by a team at MIT in 2007, and as a result were able to use a magnetic resonance coupling to achieve power transfer between objects.
When electricity moves through wires, it creates an oscillating magnetic field, which in turn causes electrons in wire coils nearby to oscillate, thus transferring energy. However, if the oscillating coils are not tuned automatically and continuously as the object moves, the flow of electricity is stopped.
Stanford’s team was able to work around this obstacle, though, by using a feedback resistor and voltage amplifier. “Adding the amplifier allows power to be very efficiently transferred across most of the three-foot range and despite the changing orientation of the receiving coil,” said graduate student Sid Assawaworrarit, the study’s lead author. “This eliminates the need for automatic and continuous tuning of any aspect of the circuits.”
According to a press release published by Stanford’s news service:
“The team is now working on greatly increasing the amount of electricity that can be transferred, and tweaking the system to extend the transfer distance and improve efficiency.”
If the Stanford team – or others – can continue making the necessary breakthroughs, the new tech could someday power a wide range of applications. Professor of electrical engineering and senior author of the study, Shanui Fan, is optimistic about future applications of the technology.
“In addition to advancing the wireless charging of vehicles and personal devices like cellphones, our new technology may untether robotics in manufacturing, which also are on the move,” Fan said.
“We still need to significantly increase the amount of electricity being transferred to charge electric cars, but we may not need to push the distance too much more.”
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